Credit card customers surprised by extreme rate hikes - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Credit card customers surprised by extreme rate hikes

SPOKANE, Wash. - Many people are outraged that banks getting billions in taxpayer bailout money are raising interest rates on their credit cards.

Ted Troscianecki's interest rate doubled even though he's never been late with a payment and always pays more than the minimum due.

"They're getting bailed out in a number of ways. Don't ask your customers to bail you out as well," Troscianecki said.

Credit card issuers have always reviewed customers' accounts every 90 days and base any change in the customer's interest rate on their FICO score (overall amount of debt and history of paying bills on time), but the unusually high rates now being charged to even outstanding customers is an attempt by the banks to make a profit off credit cards - something banks said they haven't been doing since the economy went sour.

One Consumer Credit Counseling Service said cardholders can try calling their credit card issuer and ask for a lower rate if their rate spikes and if they fear they're not going to be able to make the increased minimum payment, cardholders can talk to a credit counselor and have them negotiate with the credit card company, but that will mean going on a debt management plan and there will be a sacrifice.

"If they go on a debt management plan their credit balance or whatever is available, that credit is not available to them anymore," Richard Schram of the CCCS said.

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